Vancouver police are investigating multiple reports of suspicious behaviour towards women in the Marpole area, one of which involves an indecent act and uttering threats.
The investigation was sparked after a woman posted on social media on Feb. 22 that she had been assaulted by a man behind the Shell gas station on Granville Street and 71st Avenue the night before.
That post prompted at least three more women to come forward saying they had encountered the same suspect, which police are also investigating.
On Saturday, police confirmed they had identified a suspect in connection to the report of an indecent act and threats, and that charges were being considered.
The woman behind that report, who wrote the original social media post, told Global News she’s been told by police the suspect lives in the Marpole area and has been released from custody with conditions and a promise to appear in court in May.
“My first reaction when I heard an arrest was made was, ‘Thank God,'” she said. “My second thought was, ‘Why would he be released again?'”
The woman’s identity is being protected at her request over fears the suspect may find her again, as well as for a past history with a violent ex-partner.
Police would not confirm any further details about the suspect they have identified.
‘I believe he would have assaulted me’
The woman who made the first report to police told Global News she was leaving the Shell station around 8 p.m. on Feb. 21 when a man approached her while exposing himself.
“He was saying really horrible things to me like, ‘This is your day bitch’ and ‘I’m going to take you into the bushes and rape you,'” she said.
The woman backed away from the man but fell to the ground, continuing to scramble away while the man advanced towards her.
“At some point, I guess he saw another guy coming towards us, and he went to take off,” she said. “But before he did, he said to me, ‘I’ll get you next time, bitch.’ And then he was gone.”
Still in shock, the woman immediately reported the incident to police, who she said took a statement and walked her home.
The next day, she told her roommate what happened.
The roommate, whose identity is also being withheld to protect the first woman, said she had been walking home from a bus stop in front of the McDonald’s on Granville and 70th Avenue earlier that week when she saw a man matching the same description as the woman’s assailant leaning against a wall.
“He started walking towards me and looking at me, and as he got closer he said really loudly, ‘Hey, do you want to have sex?'” she said.
The roommate said he followed her as she gained speed, and she quickly crossed the street to get away from the man, who then went his own way.
“If I hadn’t gotten away, I believe he would have assaulted me as well,” she said.
She reported the incident to police on Feb. 23 after learning what happened to her roommate, but could not give an exact date for when the incident happened.
Both women describe the man they encountered as in his 40s or 50s, over six feet tall, 200 to 240 pounds, with dark brown hair and eyes and wearing a ripped reflective blue vest.
Since the woman posted her account to Facebook, two women have commented saying they each knew a friend who had had a similar encounter with a man matching the same description.
“It’s terrifying to know others have seen this same guy,” the woman said. “I only posted what I did because I wanted to make sure my neighbours are safe.”
Police say they are still working to establish links between the four reports they’re investigating, and won’t say whether the suspect they’ve identified is connected to all the reports.